May 26, 2018
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Prentiss incident ruled murder-suicide; motive unclear

By Nick Sambides Jr., BDN Staff

PRENTISS — When Dennis Meitzler last saw his brother Dean, he thought the 51-year-old was happy enough. He said Dean was an avid hunter, well-fixed financially, in good health and the owner of “a half-decent amount of land.”

“I know he was very much in love with his wife,” Dennis Meitzler said.

That’s why Meitzler said he was shocked to hear that state police had determined Wednesday that his younger brother, a Pennsylvania native, had shot his wife, Debra, also 51, to death in their bedroom at 993 Averill Road on Tuesday before shooting himself with the rifle.

“I really honestly don’t know what happened,” Meitzler said Wednesday during a telephone interview from his home in Boyertown, Pa. “We were up there in September and it seemed like everything was going good with them.

“They seemed to get along real good. They were financially good, and healthwise they were good,” he added, saying that his brother had no health or drug-dependency problems.

State police continue to investigate the motive for the murder-suicide, Maine Department of Public Safety spokesman Stephen McCausland said Wednesday. Investigators who combed through the house on Tuesday found no suicide note.

The motive “is something we are going to continue to work on. Most likely we will hear about that from a relative,” McCausland said Wednesday. “If we can find the motive, we would prefer to know. Sometimes we can get that answer and sometimes it eludes us.”

Dean and Debra Meitzler both died from gunshot wounds, according to autopsies conducted at the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in Augusta on Wednesday, McCausland said. The couple’s son, Jason Meitzler, 29, found them in their bedroom and called 911 at about 10:30 a.m. Tuesday.

Jason Meitzler was in another room when the shootings occurred, McCausland said.

The Meitzlers built their house off Route 169 and moved into it about a year ago, while Jason joined them about 1½ months ago, neighbors said. Dean Meitzler was a retired Pennsylvania factory worker; his wife worked as a nurse or medical assistant at a Lincoln retirement home, Colonial Health Care, and the couple’s son works at Old Town Canoes & Kayaks.

Debra Meitzler’s death is the seventh homicide of the year in Maine and the fifth involving domestic violence, McCausland said.

The neighbors said the couple seemed fine with one another.

The couple’s house is less than a half-mile southwest of Daffodil Drive in Prentiss, a tiny town about 25 miles northeast of Lincoln and almost directly east from Mattawamkeag in northeastern Penobscot County.

Meitzler worked at several factories in Pennsylvania, in Pottstown and Limerick, before retiring, his brother said. He was an excellent deer hunter and an average bear hunter who was drawn to Maine for the hunting, Dennis Meitzler said.

“He did almost every kind of hunting that I could think of,” Meitzler said.

His brother also raised coon dogs and was a gun collector. The couple’s death is hardest on their son, said Dennis Meitzler, who is Jason’s godfather.

“He’s doing bad. It’s very hard on him. They had two dogs and he had to go in [the house] and get the two dogs out before the state police would go in,” Meitzler said. “It was bad.”

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